STEM , Education Supports Racial and Ethnic Equality in STEM

I attended a workshop at the Brookings Institute on this subject. The press reported it , but they did not give it much space or report some of the new ideas that are in place in thinking about STEM education. It is not just the US that has this problem. I know this from working in many countries as a part of WSIS, and the role of science in the information society.

While we have many kinds of new technologies that people take time to learn, the culture of learning in the US is not about STEM , so far. Robotics have made a leapfrog, but since most teachers in the lower grades are women, you cannot take that as a step to engineering for granted.

Here is the link to the report.  US Dept of Commerce

There are actually three reports within the esa site. You can also read this blog.

Three important things to learn from the data.

K-12 all through K-12 we should be teaching and giving examples of STEM initiatives.

We used to say, or the people in charge used to only mostly targer students in the higher grades.

That does not work. Remarkably this is now being understood.

Teachers deserve respect for their jobs and interestingly enough in math there is a group that compensates math teachers  for being math teachers.

Math for America is the project he founded. I put the link here for those without broadband.

Math for America (MƒA) is a nonprofit organization with a mission to improve mathematics education in US public secondary schools by recruiting, training and retaining outstanding mathematics teachers. Founded in New York City in 2004, MƒA also has sites located inBerkeleyBostonLos AngelesSan DiegoUtah and Washington, DC. MƒA offers Fellowships for new and experienced teachers and school leaders, including: the MƒA Fellowship, which aims to increase the number of mathematically talented individuals entering the teaching profession; the MƒA Early Career Fellowship and the MƒA Master Teacher Fellowship, which support outstanding mathematics teachers already in the classroom; and the MƒA School Leader Fellowship, which is designed to support experienced mathematics teachers who have moved into administrative positions and oversee mathematics instruction in their schools.


Dr. Charles M. Vest is the president of the National Academy of Engineering and president emeritus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He shared this from the National Academy of Sciences.

 A report released in July  by the National Research Council presents a new framework for K-12 science education that identifies the key scientific ideas and practices all students should learn by the end of high school.  The framework will serve as the foundation for new K-12 science education standards, to replace those issued more than a decade ago.  The National Research Council is the operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering; all three are independent, nongovernmental organizations. The committee that wrote the report sees the need for significant improvements in how science is taught in the U.S.  The new framework is designed to help students gradually deepen their knowledge of core ideas in four disciplinary areas over multiple years of school, rather than acquire shallow knowledge of many topics.  And it strongly emphasizes the practices of science – helping students learn to plan and carry out investigations, for example, and to engage in argumentation from evidence. 


The overarching goal of the framework, the committee said, is to ensure that by the end of 12th grade, all students have some appreciation of the beauty and wonder of science, the capacity to discuss and think critically about science-related issues, and the skills to pursue careers in science or engineering if they want to do so — outcomes that existing educational approaches are ill-equipped to achieve.


“Currently, science education in the U.S. lacks a common vision of what students should know and be able to do by the end of high school, curricula too often emphasize breadth over depth, and students are rarely given the opportunity to experience how science is actually done,” said Helen Quinn, committee chair and professor emerita of physics at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Stanford, Calif.  “The new framework is designed to address and overcome these weaknesses.  It builds on what is known to work best in science education, based on research and classroom experience both in the U.S.and around the world.  It provides a blueprint that will guide improvements in science education over many years.”


From NIST Tech Beat ( Last summer’s offer)

NIST Summer Institute for Middle School Science Teachers Accepting Applications

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is soliciting nominations of middle school science teachers from eligible U.S. public school districts or accredited private educational institutions to participate in the NIST Summer Institute for Middle School Science Teachers. The NIST Summer Institute provides hands-on activities, lectures, tours and visits with scientists and engineers in NIST laboratories.

The Summer Institute will be held at the NIST campus in Gaithersburg, Md., from July 18 to 29, 2011.

The two-week workshop is designed to increase teachers’ understanding of the subjects they teach through exposure to the cutting-edge measurement science research pursued at NIST. The workshop provides teachers with instructional materials and ideas to use in their teaching, experience in how scientific research is carried out, and an opportunity to develop an ongoing network with the scientists and engineers at NIST. NIST provides a $2,000 stipend for teachers attending the workshop and travel and lodging funds for those traveling more than 50 miles to the workshop.

U.S. public school districts or accredited private educational institutions that offer science courses such as earth science, physical science, chemistry, physics and/or biologyat the middle school level (Grades 6-8) are eligible to nominate no more than one teacher per school for the program. Applications are due by 3 p.m. Eastern Time, on Thursday, March 24, 2011.

NIST also is soliciting nominations from school districts or educational institutions of middle school science teachers who have successfully completed the NIST Summer Institute to participate in the NIST Research Experience for Teachers (NIST RET) program. The NIST RET will allow the selected teachers to participate in scientific research with NIST scientists and engineers at the NIST campus in Gaithersburg, Md., that will encourage the teachers to inspire their students to pursue careers in fields of science, technology, engineering or mathematics.

So you can put that on your agenda to look at for the offerings next year.

If you are interested in the elementary level, or the new standards, look here.

A Framework for K-12 Science Education  for those without broadband

Charles Giancarlo sahred with us the concern of meeting the needs of the businesses that do not have

the degrees and knowhow that is needed. He said that companies have to go abroad to find these workers. We had a long discussion on the lack of diversity and the rationale for companies to seek employees outside of the US and the problems that it causes and the  current problem is that the workers cannot stay and that others come, learn and then go home and earn, also taking their new ideas to their countries.

The H-1B is a non-immigrant visa in the United States under the Immigration and Nationality Act, section 101(a)(15)(H). It allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. If a foreign worker in H-1B status quits or is dismissed from the sponsoring employer, the worker must either apply for and be granted a change of status to another non-immigrant status, find another employer (subject to application for adjustment of status and/or change of visa), or leave the United States.

The regulations define a “specialty occupation” as requiring theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge in a field of human endeavor[1]including but not limited to architectureengineeringmathematicsphysical sciencessocial sciencesbiotechnologymedicine and healtheducationlaw, accounting, business specialties, theology, and the arts, and requiring the attainment of a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent as a minimum[2] (with the exception of fashion models, who must be “of distinguished merit and ability”

Great teachers and great schools have the ability to transform the living standard of Americans.  Over the past century, investments in education have boosted the productivity and earnings of American workers, forged a path out of poverty for many families, and developed a productive and innovative workforce.  However, those gains have stagnated and even declined in recent years.  Despite one of the highest rates of per-pupil spending among industrialized countries, the United States ranks as mediocre on most measures of student achievement.

We spent more per person on incarceration than education per person.

Here is the Brookings Institute summary of the event.

The need for better science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) teacher training and investment was emphasized today at a Brookings Institution forum on the topic. Dr. Rebecca Blank, the Acting Secretary of Commerce, presented several Commerce reports showing the importance of STEM education for job creation and economic development, and significant underrepresentation in the field for women, African-Americans, and Hispanics. Its report on “Women in STEM: A Gender Gap to Innovation” found that STEM workers were 76 percent male and only 24 percent female. A new report released today on “Education Supports Racial and Ethnic Equality in STEM” noted that 74 percent of STEM workers are male, compared to 6 percent who are Hispanic, 6 percent African-American, and 14 percent Asian-American. She noted the importance of the United States doing a better job attracting students into STEM fields and the need to reach out to under-represented communities. Since STEM workers earn a premium of 25 percent over other workers and have only a 5.5 percent unemployment rate, there are strong economic incentives to get more people into STEM fields.

Jim Simons, the founder of Math for America and board chairman of Renaissance Technologies, discussed his non-profit’s interest in improving teacher training in high school STEM courses. He said we need “knowledgeable and inspiring teachers” and that today we have a “shortage of such teachers”. The way to make STEM teaching more attractive so instructors do a better job introducing students to science and math is “higher pay and better working conditions”. Math for America proposes bonuses and stipends for high school STEM teachers and has provided funding for this across the country. The organization helps 350 math teachers in New York City and hopes to raise that figure to between 700 and 800 in the near future.

Charles Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering and MIT president emeritus. He pointed out that South Korea graduates more engineers than the United States and the China graduates 10 times as many as America. In many Asian countries, 21 percent of college graduates are engineers, compared to 12 percent in Europe and 4.5 percent in the United States.

Charles Giancarlo is managing director and head of value creation for Silver Lake Partners. He noted that Cisco (where he used to serve as executive vice president) employs 24,000 engineers and Silver Lake Partner’s companies employ 87,000. Yet the United States graduates only 86,000 engineers, indicating a mismatch between supply and demand. He also explained that 35 percent of graduates are foreign born, yet we only provide 85,000 H-1b visas for scientists and engineers so many foreign students who would like to stay in the United States are forced to return to their home country. This robs the United States of valuable talent and sources of future innovation and job creation.


My view is at the top of the event and I believe that urban, rural, distant and gender .. we have a lot to do to change the face of education.

Bonnie Bracey Sutton

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